Most folks in bluegrass know Anthony Howell as the talented young banjo picker with Williamson Branch, where he is also called upon to play guitar and mandolin on occasion. But you may not know that he is also a gifted leather worker who offers custom straps for banjo, guitar, and mandolin.
Initially, Howell just made straps upon request as his fellow bluegrass performers noticed how nicely his own straps were tooled. You can see some of his work on instruments played by Eli Johnston of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Adam McIntosh of Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, Zack Arnold of Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, and C.J. Lewandowski of The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys.
When COVID-19 put an end to touring last year, Anthony began to make these straps more seriously, looking to recapture the income lost when touring was shout down. Now, he finds a steady stream of customers who appreciate the quality of his work, and the ability to have a strap customized to their liking, which he creates at his Nashville home.
Though never schooled in leather working, he studied the work of a master.
“James Alan Shelton is a big influence of mine and I always loved the look of his guitar/banjo straps. I never got the chance to get a strap from him so I wanted to start making straps that resembled his. I don’t make them exactly the way he did, because that’s already been done, but the influence is there.”
Since these are one off, custom creations, Anthony is willing to make a strap that is individualized to the tastes of the customers, and cut to a comfortable length for each player. He tells us that his straps are made from 100% genuine cowhide leather, and are hand tooled, stained, and dyed.
Eli Johnston says that he is delighted with his.
“I love my beautiful customized guitar strap made by Anthony Howell! It is very comfortable as well as a quality product!!”
Some photos of straps Anthony has made can be seen below. More information can be found on his Facebook page, where you can also contact him about pricing.